Posted on 10. Oct, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
Below are links to reviews of two excellent books on Reformed orthodoxy. The first is edited by our own Mark Jones together with Michael Haykin. It treats some of the primary controversies among Reformed thinkers in seventeenth century Britain. This is one of the best works that I read for my PhD thesis and I cannot commend it highly enough. Every chapter is gripping. You can read the review here:
The second link is a review of Aaron Denlinger’s outstanding work on Amborgio Catarino’s teaching on the covenant of works. Who is Amborgio Catarino? He was a counter Reformation Catholic theologian whose teaching on the pre-fall covenant may have influenced some Reformed authors in constructing their treatments of the covenant of works. This book shows how Reformed thought was complex and Reformed theologians were willing to test all things by the Scriptures, regardless of the source. You can read the review here:
Posted on 08. Oct, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
I just learned this morning that my book on the Sabbath (The Day of Worship) has gone into a second printing. I rejoice and thank the Holy Spirit for the extent to which he has blessed this work already. I wrote this book because the Sabbath is a great weak point in modern Christianity. Sabbath breaking is indicative of far greater and more fundamental deficiencies in our Christian lives. Put more positively, God has designed the Sabbath to stretch our spiritual muscles, to make us long for heaven more fervently, to practice self-denial, to flee worldliness, and to better equip us to keep all of the rest of God’s commandments. The Lord’s Day is one of the best means in the Christian life to help us focus on the central realities of the life, death, and, especially the resurrection of Christ. It declares the Father’s love to us openly and it is to our spiritual detriment that our worldly employments and recreations have so come to dominate our lives that we refuse to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake by honoring his holy day.
I believe that the triune God blessed the writing of this book beyond my natural abilities. I praise him for using it thus far. I have prayed, and I still pray, that the Lord would use this book as one means among many to bring true revival to his church. Since RHB does not indicate or advertise when a book has been reprinted, there is a link to the book below. If this issue is dear to your heart, then please pray for the book and tell others about it.
Posted on 06. Sep, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
The Church today needs greater personal holiness among her members. For this reason, Joel Beeke and I are co-editing a series on Cultivating Biblical Godliness. I have advertised this in previous posts over the past two weeks. Below are a list of the first four titles that we plan to publish through Reformation Heritage Books in early 2014. Please join us in prayer that the Lord would use these booklets in order to promote revival in the church as the Spirit blesses the writing and reading of them. Keep an eye out for them through RHB and help spread the word.
How Should Teenagers Read the Bible? (Joel Beeke)
What is a Christian? (Ryan McGraw)
How Should I Love God? (Maurice Roberts)
How Should I Kill Remaining Sin? (Geoff Thomas)
Posted on 30. Aug, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
Last week, I announced that Joel Beeke and I will be c0-editing a series of booklets entitled, Cultivating Biblical Godliness. The Lord has already begun to bless us with useful topics and godly authors. Below is a short list of a few authors and subjects that we have confirmed for this series so far. Keep an eye out for the first installations of this series in early 2014 and pray that the Lord would use it to revive and strengthen His church and her witness.
What is a Christian? (Ryan M. McGraw)
How Should Teenagers Read the Bible? (Joel R. Beeke)
How Should I Love God? (Maurice Roberts)
How Can I Kill Remaining Sin? (Geoff Thomas)
What are the Benefits of Biblical Church Discipline (Albert N. Martin)
What is Experimental Calvinism? (Ian Hamilton)
Why is Friendship Important? (Michael Haykin)
How do I Practice Self-Denial? (Ryan M. McGraw)
How Do I Lead my Home Through Office Bearing? (Joel R. Beeke)
What is Better than Miracles and More Important than Preaching? (Ryan M. McGraw)
How does the Trinity Affect my Life? (Michael Haykin)
How Can I Profit from Public Worship? (Albert N. Martin)
Is Church Membership Biblical? (Ryan M. McGraw/Ryan A. Speck)
Posted on 26. Aug, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
“God’s Spirit must fill the sails of our ministry. It is not that scatters the seed which makes it spring up, but the dews and influences of heaven. So it is not our preaching, but the divine influence of the Spirit that makes grace grow in men’s hearts. We are but pipes and organs. It is God’s Spirit blowing in us that makes the preaching of the Word by a divine enchantment allure souls to Christ. Ministers are but stars to light you to Christ. The Spirit is the lodestone to draw you. … Oh, then pray for us, that God will make his work prosper in our hands. This may be one reason why the Word preached does not profit more, because people do not pray more. Perhaps you complain the tool is dull, the minister is dead and cold. You should have whetted and sharpened him by your prayer. If would have the door of a blessing opened to you through our ministry, you must unlock it through the key of prayer.” (Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes, 23)
Posted on 23. Aug, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
Cultivating Biblical Godliness: Series Description
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “The world today is looking for, and desperately needs, true Christians. I am never tired of saying that what the Church needs to do is not to organize evangelistic campaigns and attract outside people, but to begin herself to live the Christian life. If she did that, men and women would be crowding into our buildings. They would say, ‘What is the secret of this?’” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 13).
Many people who are new to the church need instruction in the most basic aspects of godly living. Even where churches are engaged heavily in discipleship, there are often gaps in the understanding and practice of both visitors and members. One of the greatest needs of our time is for the Spirit of God to cultivate biblical godliness in us in order to put the glory of Christ on display through us, all to the glory of God the Father.
For these reasons, Joel Beeke and I are co-editing a series of booklets entitled, Cultivating Biblical Godliness. These booklets treat matters that are vital to Christian experience and each contribution aims to address a wide variety of people and circumstances at a fundamental and introductory level. This includes teaching people what to believe in order to practice personal holiness as well as specific directions on how to cultivate biblical godliness in relation to issues that are common to God’s people.
The distinctive feature of this series is its experiential tone. While some series’ of booklets aim to enlighten the mind, these booklets aim to warm the affections as well. The goal is to promote communion with the triune God and to transform the entire person, in thought, speech, and behavior.
To this end, we intend to include a wide range of authors whom the Spirit has blessed to skillfully stir up the church to personal holiness and affection to Christ through their preaching and writing ministries. Authors will include men such as: Joel Beeke, Ryan McGraw, Maurice Roberts, Geoff Thomas, Al Martin, Joseph Pipa, Ian Hamilton, Michael Haykin, and many others (a list of subjects will follow next week, Lord willing). The first four booklets are scheduled to appear in the first quarter of 2014.
We need a Christianity that puts the transformative power of God in the gospel on display through developing a communion with God that is visible to the world. Our prayer is that through this series, the Lord would revive His church that she should rejoice and be glad in Him by producing Christians who are full of love for Christ, who deny themselves in order to follow Christ at great personal cost, and who know the joys of walking with the triune God. This is the kind of Christianity that we need. This is the kind of Christianity that the triune God has used to turn the world upside down. May He be pleased to do so again.
Posted on 22. Aug, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
Here is a recent interview with Bill Hill from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary regarding my recent book, Christ’s Glory, Your Good. My hope and prayer is that the Lord would use this book both to bring people to know the Father, trough the Son, by the Spirit, and that believers would be joyfully transformed more into the likeness of their Lord.
Posted on 13. Aug, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecth is now moving forward with the publication of my PhD thesis on John Owen. Lord willing, the book should be available sometime in early 2014. Though this is an academic thesis, the subject treated is practical and experimental. My hope and pray is that the Lord would use it to bless ministers in the church and to help them gather materials that will help them in their ministries. My only advice is that some of you will want to borrow the book through inter-library loan, since it will be fairly expensive (though not as bad as it could have been!). Below is a short description of the book more or less as it will appear in their cataloge:
There is a growing body of historical literature on the importance of John Owen. This research seeks to reassess Owen’s theology in light of the way in which he connected his trinitarian piety to his views of public worship. It argues that his teaching on communion with God as triune was the foundation of his views of public worship and that he regarded public worship as the highest expression of communion with the triune God. These themes not only highlight Owen’s context as a Reformed orthodox theologian, but the distinctive influence of English Puritanism on his theological emphases. The connection between his practical trinitarianism and public worship runs through the course of his writings and every major area of his theology. These include the nature of theology, the knowledge of God, the doctrine of the Trinity, public worship, spiritual affections, apostasy, covenant theology, ecclesiology, and Christology. This work treats these themes in Owen’s thought and shows how they intersect and are intertwined with the Trinity and public worship. In addition, this book provides a detailed exposition of the parts of Reformed worship. While other works have treated the centrality of his trinitarianism in his theology, few have acknowledged the importance of public worship in his thinking. This research concludes that communion with God in public worship was integral to Owen’s practical trinitarian theology.
Posted on 02. Aug, 2013 by Ryan McGraw.
I am almost finished writing a book on John Owen for the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series for Reformation Heritage Books. The book will focus particularly on Owen’s trinitarian piety and public worship and the ways that he wove these themes throughout his theology. There is very little popular level material available on trinitarian piety today and I have not read anyone who has written on this subject more fully and effectively than Owen. Public worship was, in his view, the highest expression of communion with our triune God.
I have gleaned Owen’s teaching on trinitarian piety from a cross-section of the entire body of his writings in order to help readers who will not likely read all of Owen’s Works. I hope and pray that the Lord will use this book to increase our love to and communion with all three persons of the Godhead.
For those who are familiar with the series, each volume includes a historical introduction followed by between 31-45 selected readings from the subject’s works. I will end up with just over 40 readings, Lord willing. Below is a sample of Owen’s meditations on preaching. This is one of the rare sections in the volume that is not explicitly trinitarian, but it gives an example of why Owen is worth reading:
Posted on 29. Jun, 2013 by Lee Gatiss.
The Puritan minister, William Whately of Banbury (far from being an uncivilized border town) once exclaimed, ‘What does one do when the “unsanctified world” exists right within one’s own parish?’ The most comprehensive Puritan answer to that question was given by Richard Baxter in his book The Reformed Pastor, which was clear that ‘We must labour, in a special manner, for the conversion of the unconverted.’ Yet preaching alone was not sufficient for this task. With Paul in Acts 20 as his model, Baxter taught people not just from the pulpit but excelled in teaching them also ‘from house to house.’
In fact, Baxter invited the whole town to his home and took them, one by one, family by family, through a catechism, asking questions to probe their understanding, teaching and exhorting them where necessary. From experience he learned that this could lead to more spiritual understanding in half-an-hour, than could ten years’ of preaching. Through his faithful diligence, many nominal Christians and many entirely unchurched families were brought to a living faith in Christ.
Baxter’s model of ministry was highly focused on clergy activity. Laymen had their place, particularly fathers in pastoring their families, but Baxter’s model is perhaps open to the criticism that the pastor was in danger of becoming too dominant, like a medieval priest. We may probably wish to involve laity more in evangelism and pastoral visiting, reckoning lay-led small groups as the basic unit of pastoral care. But in an age of multi-campus ministries and video-link sermons, where whole congregations may not know or be known by their preacher, Baxter’s personal approach to the Indians in his church may stand as a sharp rebuke to more distant pastoring techniques, which may reach thousands but only on a more superficial level.
In all these ways we’ve looked at over the last week, then, the Puritans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries sought to fulfill the Great Commission. They made their share of mistakes. But their politics and their theologizing sought to protect the gospel and its liberty, so that in their mission to pagan foreigners, superstitious countrymen, and nominal churchgoers they could employ every creative means at their disposal to win the nations for Christ. There is much for us to ponder in their example.
My posts this week have been taken from my article on the Puritans as Missionaries in Modern Reformation magazine from a few years ago.